Today would have been my father’s 78th birthday. I am posting a poem written by him on a long-standing effort by him to get my mother to trade wearing sarees and chappals (slippers) for wearing salwar kameezes and shoes, when they traveled. My mother, who is most comfortable in the saree, would resist.
My changes and additions are only in formatting.
Tarzan and his mate, Jane
Sometime in 2003 the children decided that we should be treated to our Ruby Wedding Anniversary in great style. Gauri took the initiative and, through her contact, located an exciting location at a time-share spot on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Her contact sent a picture of the said accommodation that awaited us at this place, and, in prankish jest, had it pictured as a dwelling on a tree-top – showing a ladder placed on the ground, denoting the sole access to the house. This sent my mind also equally whirling – leading us to accept the taunt by placing ourselves in reciprocating jest, aptly as Tarzan and Jane. This also gave me a chance to narrate Tarzan’s overtures to Jane to wean her away from being all too rigidly conservatively clad by suggestions of attiring oneself as occasion demanded.
Time = Around 2003
Matron = married woman (usually middle-aged with grown-up children) who is staid and dignified
Willful = habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition
Thy Find = Wedding Day
Ruby Time = Ruby Wedding Jubilee (40 years)
Matador land = Spain
Distant mountain lands = Alpine resorts
Long trip in September = Visit to Copenhagen in 3 hops:
(1) USA – Frankfurt
(2) Frankfurt – Hamburg by train
(3) Hamburg – Copenhagen by Boat and Train which includes
(4) Ferry boat crossing Germany – Denmark across the Sound
Here, there, on deck = On the plane, on the train, on ferry boat deck
Flying Maharajah’s aides = Air India Hostesses
Concert Habit = Dress suitable only for Social Evenings
Doth not skintight bodice, a chimp suit, choke you all day?
'Tis amazing that this thou now taketh even to bed to lay;
Cast that off for mate’s sake, woman, and slip into airy gown,
Wherefore cramp thyself further underneath our eiderdown?
My cloth hath clung to me over the years ever so well,
My good man, behold! Can't you see it clads me so swell?
Many that this land do trod, be seen they’ll in only such turnout,
As matron forsake this can I, and be one to such tradition flout?
Come summer we travel to Europe to distant mountain lands,
So, willful woman, stock thyself with attire that occasion demands;
See how you'll then leap with ease o’er brook and ditch alike,
In footwear stitched for rough ground and very tedious hike.
As college lass on picnic trips, and many great outings thereafter,
This garb oft survived misadventure, in fun and such loud laughter;
Thy inutile palaver pray cease, and watch how on shape so svelte,
Sits this vestment thou decrieth, gracefully sans pins or any belt.
Come September, the long trip that we planned goes at last afloat,
Which taketh us far – now by plane, then train, and again ferry boat.
Let Concert Habit be, stuff only rugged Wear in thy travel bag, oh Jane,
Must you really parade in orient garb – here, there, then on deck again?
This garb hath test of time withstood, and turned many admiring heads,
At seaside, sports site, so too on flying Maharajah’s magnificent aides;
Be quiet, and bug me no more, you thoughtless bully, you silly ape,
Forsake I won’t my precious blouse and that ever-so-faithful drape!
This time next year to celebrate thy find, we will in sunny Matador land,
In a pretty hideout on the treetops amidst miles of glorious golden sand;
Splash by day and swing by night, from high branch with grasping strap,
Senora, shed at least for Ruby Time blooming blouse and awkward Wrap!
My father with his wife and daughter in sarees!